KINGSTON, Jamaica — Jamaica’s justice minister said Tuesday that legislation has been drafted to decriminalize marijuana on the Caribbean island where the drug has been pervasive but prohibited for a century.

Mark Golding told reporters that lawmakers should make possession of 2 ounces or less a petty offence before the end of 2014.

He also expects decriminalization for religious purposes to be authorized by then, allowing adherents of the homegrown Rastafarian spiritual movement to ritually smoke marijuana, which they consider a “holy herb,” without fear of arrest.

Golding said it will take longer to agree on more complex changes to Jamaica’s Dangerous Drugs Act needed to spur a medical marijuana and cannabis research sector.

He said Jamaica, where scientists developed a cannabis-derived medication to treat glaucoma decades ago, is “well-positioned to be a forerunner” in efforts to research therapeutic uses of the plant.

As Jamaica advances marijuana decriminalization, the government…